A trio of money managers who shared a $254 million Powerball jackpot said Sunday they were kicking off the first of many charitable donations by splitting a $1 million gift among five veterans' service organizations.
The Putnam Avenue Family Trust announced through a spokesman that donations of $200,000 each were being given to the five groups for their work helping veterans and military members who have recently returned from deployments.
The trust was created by Greenwich wealth fund managers Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson after they learned they had won the jackpot, which they claimed Nov. 28 at Connecticut Lottery headquarters. The jackpot was the largest won in Connecticut and the 12th biggest in Powerball history.
Thomas Gladstone, who identified himself as the landlord for the men's company, said afterward that Lacoff told him they were representing a fourth person who didn't want his identity disclosed. There was also a sense that the group didn't seem excited about their Connecticut-record jackpot, which led to further speculation that they may not have been the actual winners. But the men's lawyer and a spokesman for their Putnam Avenue Family Trust have said the speculation is false and there is no fourth winner.
They promised at the time they claimed the jackpot that they would kick off their charitable donations with $1 million within 10 days and said in a statement Sunday that they "cannot think of a more urgent priority than addressing the needs of those men and women who have defended our nation."
"Many of these veterans are faced with a myriad of real and immediate personal issues that range from trauma to foreclosures. These grant awards reflect the beginning of a process that allows us to leverage lottery winnings into materially helping our society," Lacoff, Skidmore and Davidson said in a statement Sunday.
Their trust took in a $103.5 million lump sum after taxes. The men have said they hope the trust's charitable donations will become an example for other lottery winners nationwide.The groups receiving $200,000 each are The Bob Woodruff Foundation, based in Bristow, Va.; Building Homes for Heroes, based in Valley Stream, N.Y.; Services for the Under Served (S.U.S.) and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, both based in New York City; and Operation First Response, based in Culpeper, Va.
Officials from the five organizations said they were surprised and thrilled by the donations, which will help with programs for veterans' housing, mental health care, treatment and diagnosis of traumatic brain injuries, education and employment training and other services.
Peggy Baker, president of Operation First Response, called the $200,000 donation "a Christmas miracle," and Andy Pujol, president and founder of Building Homes for Heroes, said they were ecstatic over what they considered "this incredible act of patriotism and generosity."
Skidmore, Davidson and Lacoff work at the Greenwich wealth management firm Belpointe, which provides investment advice, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company manages $82 million, according to the SEC.
They said after claiming their Powerball winnings, and again in their statement Sunday, that they plan to use their investment expertise to build the jackpot into even more money for charitable gifts.
"If we are successful, we believe the creation of this Trust, and its legacy, will serve as a national model for others who have been equally fortunate in winning sweepstakes and now seek to use those dollars to touch the lives of others," they wrote.
Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut